My hope is that by now you’ve cut yourself off from social media and the litany of voices criticizing your decision to stay with your husband despite the horrible things he has done. Not that you’ve really had much time to process the situation, with everything happening so fast and four very young children to care for. Yet, even the notion that you might forgive Josh is so outrageous, people have assumed your response must be the result of bad parenting by your mother and father or a lack of an education, as made evident by a Facebook post that recently went viral.
According to the collective conscience, there has to be some explanation behind your forgiveness that is rooted in self-deception and desperation. Only a woman who thinks she has no options would even consider forgiving someone like Josh. Apparently there is a level of deceit that is unforgivable in our culture; and many think you should dissolve your marriage without a second thought.
Take heart my friend. As you’ve quickly found out, grace is a scandalous business. Brennan Manning explained this tension between the worldly reaction you’ve encountered and your attempt to follow your faith best when he said, “Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something and someone that it cannot cover. Grace is enough.” I get the feeling you know this.
Of course, without question, you have every good reason to leave Josh in the dust. And who knows? You still might. But what many of the naysayers don’t understand, or have forgotten, is that marriage is not necessarily a reflection of what has been done to us but rather what has been done for us. Marriage—for better or worse—illustrates God’s love, for while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Let that sink in for a moment. While we were still sinning, He died for us so that we might be reunited with a holy God who cannot be in the presence of sin, and therefore has taken it upon himself to cover us with his perfect blood love.
God has every reason to leave us in the dust because we all fall short of His glory. Albeit some have fallen further than others; holiness is not graded on a sliding scale—it’s either pass or fail. And news flash: we all fail! Every single one of us.
Ah! But how can Josh be forgiven for that which he has not repented? It is precisely the unconditional nature of patience, forbearance, and kindness that makes grace so amazing, it actually leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Grace is a gift that we receive as a result of no effort of our own. Repentance is merely our response upon accepting grace, and hopefully it will be Josh’s.
The only difference between your husband and the rest of us is that most of us haven’t had someone hack into a database to expose our sins publicly. But no matter how far we push back our need for a Savior into the recesses of our minds, God doesn’t need a hacker to know what really goes on in our hearts or when we think no one is watching. He knows every detail. And yet, He loves us anyway, waiting patiently for us to come to repentance, just as you seem to be doing for your husband.
Bravo sweet sister! Despite the pressures of what seems natural—to leave a cheating, lying, hypocrite of a husband—you are calling on God to do what is supernatural and restore both him and your marriage. No Anna, you are not desperate or delusional. You are faithful. Faithful to Josh, but more importantly, faithful to our God who reminds us in His own words that whoever turns a sinner from the error of their ways will save their soul from death, covering a multitude of sins, which includes cheating, lying and hypocrisy (James 5:19-20).
You are not a victim as so many would have you believe. In Jesus Christ, you are a victor; and I pray one day we can say the same for Josh. As for the rest of us, like you, may we learn to breathe less fire and inhale more grace.
Your sister in Christ,